By Brad Dison
Meeley and Pidge were an adventurous pair of young sisters. Pidge looked up to her older sister, Meeley. All throughout their childhood in Atchison, Kansas, Meeley led Pidge on wonderful adventures in their neighborhood. Meeley was certainly the leader, but Pidge was an eager participant in all sorts of shenanigans.
One boring day in 1904, 7-year-old Meeley and 5-year-old Pidge designed a ramp after a roller coaster they had seen on a trip to St. Louis, Missouri. The girls convinced their uncle to help them build the ramp. Once built, Meeley leaned the ramp against the family’s tool shed. Meeley had an old wooden box that, with help, she had added wheels to create a roller coaster type car. Meeley and Pidge climbed to the top of the tool shed. Being the older sister, Meeley decided that it was her responsibility to test their version of a roller coaster alone.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Meeley jumped in the car. The car zoomed down the ramp and back up the other end. Meeley and the old wooden box left the ramp and soared into the air. For Meeley, time seemed to slow down. For what seemed like a blissful eternity, Meeley flew. This time, Pidge really looked up to her sister. The whole event lasted only a few seconds. But there was a problem with Meeley’s plan. She had taken no precautions for the landing. She wore no protective gear, nor had she mats to soften her fall. As soon as the old wooden box touched the earth, it completely disintegrated. Meeley’s young body flailed as she landed among the broken remains of the old wooden box. As she came to a rest on the splintered wood, other remnants of the old wooden box crashed down onto her. Fearing the worst, Pidge rushed to Meeley’s side. She could see that Meeley was bruised all over. She could almost see Meeley’s heart beating in her swelling lip. The crash landing had badly torn Meeley’s clothes. Despite all this, Meeley was exhilarated. With adrenaline coursing through her young body, Meeley said, “Oh, Pidge, it’s just like flying!” Luckily for Pidge, the old wooden box was beyond repair because she would have gladly taken her turn.
Pidge eventually outgrew her daring nature, but Meeley never did. Meeley kept pushing the boundaries and her adventures brought her worldwide fame. Her fame grew exponentially in 1937, not because of a goal she achieved but one she failed to complete. In one of her last letters to her husband, Meeley wrote, “Please know I am quite aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it.” No amount of cajoling could ever dissuade Meeley from trying something new.
Throughout their lives, Meeley and Pidge affectionately referred to each other by their childhood nicknames. You have probably never heard of Pidge, whose real name was Grace Muriel. You certainly know Meeley. She disappeared on July 2, 1937 while attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. Meeley was the childhood nickname of Amelia Mary Earhart.
Source: Yaffe, Alva. 2019. “What Really Happened to Amelia Earhart?” History by Day. March 20, 2019.https://historybyday.com/